Last week I handed our kindergarteners our new terrestrial invertebrate "shake boxes" and headed to the woods. These tools of science are part of Evergreen's new on-campus field studies initiative, to establish ongoing ecosystem monitoring right outside our classroom doors.
With funding from a Burroughs-Wellcome PRISM award and the National Environmental Education Fund (NEEF) we have been able to establish a number of ongoing monitoring sites on our campus. In addition to looking at the presence and diversity of terrestrial invertebrates, our students will be monitoring the weather, terrestrial and aquatic salamanders, bird nest boxes, and atmospheric ozone levels.
The process of data collection, entry and analysis is reserved for our middle school kids, but I decided to see what would happen if I introduced the equipment to our youngest explorers. As you can see, they are ready. Putting the shake boxes in their hands encouraged their natural sense of curiosity and their excitement about the experience was palpable.
This experience reminds me that at the heart of scientific inquiry is a sense of wonder about the world around us. May we all remember to pause and take time to see the world through the eyes of a kindergartener.
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement... If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later year…the alienation from the sources of our strength.”
Rachel Carson, A Sense of Wonder